KWENU: Our Culture, Our Future
'We’ll overcome the bedlam if we persevere' (2)
Dallas, Texas, USA
Sunday, January 28, 2007
The concluding part of my New Year message addresses ways to get the country rid of corrupt politicians, including flaccid ideology and principles. It’s hoped that 2007 would usher in credible leaders. The excerpts:
My people, I find solace in Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of our society and the emergence of EFCC has been a soothing relief. I support EFCC's aggressive pursuit of those who have looted public money. All of these individuals should be arrested without further delay and have them return the funds they have looted. We have to support the Commission because it is one of the highlights of Nigeria brought by the present administration. Nigeria needs EFCC to fight corruption and I encourage all Nigerians to give it their unflinching support.
Without a scruple, I encourage EFCC to work in tandem with INEC to ensure that credible candidates hold elective offices. The money bag era must be history; money should not be allowed to determine victory at the polls.
While I advocate for more independency for EFCC, it is imperative the agency to conduct itself above reproach and performs its responsibilities objectively and without prejudice so that the masses would have total confidence and trust in the commission. Personally, I have confidence and trust in EFCC.
As Nigeria is at crossroad, I strongly encourage INEC to work diligently to ensure that the 2007 elections would be devoid of fraud. Credible poll must be our mantra! Nigeria is yawning for free and fair elections and that should be the mantra for Prof. Maurice Iwu and INEC. However, it should be everyone’s duty to help INEC to conduct the 2007 elections successfully. I encourage all the three tiers of government: local, state, and federal should ensure that the elections are free, fair and without any form of violence. Again, I call on security and law enforcement agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be objective in their activities and work diligently to ensure that the elections are free, fair and violence free. Since the world will be watching Nigeria in this exercise, all efforts and measures must be in place to guide against intimidation, fraud, rigging and all other variables that contravene the principles of democracy.
In the process of conducting free and fair elections, it is imperative for individuals to stand for elections instead of political parties. To facilitate the development of democracy, the electorate should be given the opportunity to vote for individuals of their choice and not political parties of their choice. Allowing political parties to stand for elections impedes the progress of democracy.
In all these, however, it is critical for the judiciary to step up to the plate. The judiciary should be totally independent and fearless in discharging its responsibilities. The judiciary has the potential to either stifle or enhance our democracy. It’s our responsibility to encourage members of the judiciary to be strong and bold for the country values them.
Spurn political violence
Nigerians should spurn political violence. I strongly encourage the law enforcement agencies to curb political violence. Political violence is the crudest way to settle political issues. Political contest should involve high level discourse whereby credible candidates with superior ideas to serve and uplift the masses would prevail. Politics is about competing ideas and issues; it is about who has a better idea to address societal problems. People don’t win by killing their opponents or engaging in violence; people win or lose on the ballot. Nigeria should not allow political violence to be the norm.
Nigeria should be determined to have credible people in elective offices as we prepare to have fair, free, and violence-free elections. We should not allow those people devoid of ideology and ideas to occupy any position in government anymore. We should not fall for their diabolical tactics any longer. No amount of political killings would be able to shake our courage and resolve.
It’s imperative to have credible candidates stand for elective offices. The era of recycled bad leadership should have been over. I encourage the electorate to vote wisely to retire the bad leadership that has been plunged state economies into disaster. Our people do not deserve to have unreliable and dishonest people in leadership any longer. We need candidates that are driven by service and not by their own selfish interests. We need the candidates to address issues and convince the voters on why they should be elected. As a result, I strongly encourage credible candidates to engage in issue-oriented campaign.
Press in Our Democracy
I personally commend members of Nigerian press for the job they have done so far. Nevertheless, more work is ahead of us.
I strongly believe that members of the press have an important role to play, especially during the period of electioneering. I sincerely implore members of media to discharge their civic responsibility with utmost diligence. The success of our democracy rests on the Nigerian media. It’s their responsibility to furnish the masses with total and accurate information. It’s incumbent on them to educate the electorate about the candidates and issues so that they would make an informed choice at the polls.
Again, members of the media should perform their civic responsibility boldly and without any reproach. They should not give the politicians a free pass. At this stage of our democracy, those who chose to lead us should not be haughtily above investigative journalism. Their records should be public record. The press should illuminate the important issues facing the nation, including localized issues. You know, the electorate would not know much about individual candidates without the help of the media.
I stress and advise voters to examine the candidates' past records and vote for those that are unselfish and above board; it is incumbent on the electorate to vote against corruption for posterity. I would want the electorate to make an informed decision when going to the polls on Saturday. This is why it is imperative for the media to provide voters with the tools and information to form an educated opinion, which is necessary for the survival of democracy. It is critical for the masses to be informed in a democratic society.
Also churches should help reach citizens in ways they have never done before. It is their moral responsibility to ensure that members of their congregation fully understand and exercise their rights in Nigeria—democracy demands it. It is imperative that the masses rid the country and its government of people with flaccid ideology and principles.
A healthy nation would eventually be a wealthy nation! The effects AIDS pandemic in Nigeria could not be treated in a lukewarm fashion. It is a national crisis and it should be treated as such. Though AIDS is a global crisis, which its ravaging effects are documented, Nigeria has to find a unique and radical way to tackle the problem. In a speech at 2006 Global Summit on AIDS and the Church at Saddleback Church Campus, Lake Forest, California on December 1, 2006, Senator Barack Obama aptly described the enormity of the problem when he said, “You know, AIDS is a story often told by numbers. 40 million infected with HIV. Nearly 4.5 million this year alone. 12 million orphans in Africa. 8,000 deaths and 6,000 new infections every single day. In some places, 90% of those with HIV do not know they have it. And we just learned that AIDS is set to become the 3rd leading cause of death worldwide in the coming years.”
“Like no other illness, AIDS tests our ability to put ourselves in someone else's shoes - to empathize with the plight of our fellow man. While most would agree that the AIDS orphan or the transfusion victim or the wronged wife contracted the disease through no fault of their own, it has too often been easy for some to point to the unfaithful husband or the promiscuous youth or the gay man and say "This is your fault. You have sinned." I don't think that's a satisfactory response. My faith reminds me that we all are sinners.”
Senator Obama’s statements underscore the urgent need to intensify the enlightenment campaign in every village and town; in every local government area, in churches. Our government must educate the masses about this debilitating disease. It’s not enough to educate people about AIDS; people already infected must be provided adequate therapy. They must also be treated with dignity.
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